Just days after releasing an update that said the search for the province’s first Chief Prevention Officer (CPO) was ongoing, the MOL announced today that George Gritziotis has been given the position. As CPO, Gritziotis will be responsible for:
- Developing a provincial OHS strategy;
- Coordinating and aligning Ontario’s workplace health and safety prevention system; and
- Providing advice on the prevention of workplace injuries and occupational diseases.
“Ontario’s workplaces continue to be among the safest in Canada, but we can always do better. Mr. Gritziotis’ proven skill and vast experience will greatly benefit workers and employers. The appointment of our first Chief Prevention Officer is another step towards healthier and safer workplaces for Ontarians,” says Charles Sousa, Minister of Labour.
Let’s Meet George
So what do we know about George Gritziotis? Here are some highlights from his official bio released by the MOL:
- Gritziotis holds an MBA from the University of Ottawa and an economics degree from Concordia University
- Since 2001, he has served as founding executive director of the Construction Sector Council (CSC)
- At CSC, he played a key role in facilitating partnerships in the residential, institutional and commercial, heavy industrial and civil engineering sectors
- In 1998, he became the national coordinator for the Alliance of Sector Councils, a partnership of national organizations that brings together private sector employer and labour organizations to address HR development issues
- Between 1999 and 2001, he was director of HR and the employability development sector at Tecsult Eduplus Inc., a Montreal-based company specializing in human resources development for major civil engineering construction projects.
Here’s what Gritziotis has had to say about safety-related topics in the past:
On computer-based safety training: Gritziotis said the idea for computer-based training for construction workers came out of a desire to streamline safety training across the country so that no matter where a pipeline construction worker comes from, he or she has a standard base knowledge of safety training. (itWorld Canada, Oct. 2004)
On the impact of labour shortages on safety: “When you have a shortage, you’re desperately looking for workers and sometimes that means you may be bringing in workers that aren’t as qualified as you’d like them to be,” concedes CSC executive director, George Gritziotis. “You end up looking for bodies as opposed to qualified people, because there just aren’t enough available,” Gritziotis reports. (OHS Canada, Dec. 2008)
On foreign workers: “They [foreign workers] may have the technical skills, but not the language skills. They need to have health and safety training and need to know their rights,” Gritziotis says. (Toronto Sun, May 2008)
A Good Fit?
Gritziotis doesn’t seem to have a lot to say—at least publicly—about workplace safety, which is unusual given the serious safety issues construction workers face every day. In fact, the Dean Report targeted construction as a “high risk” industry in need of mandatory, standardized and accredited training. Recommendation 16 says that mandatory entry-level training for construction workers should be a priority. And the Report discusses safety concerns about the underground economy in the construction industry.
But in Gritziotis’ tenure at CSC, he seems to have been more concerned with labour shortages and recruitment of new workers. So it seems like his safety background and experience is a little thin, making him not an obvious choice for CPO.
What do you think—is Gritziotis a good choice for CPO? If not, who would you have appointed? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.